Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Rowen

After having read 10 books of this series in the last four years I recommend it. A couple were not up to the standards of the rest of the series, but it is mostly a very good cozy mystery series. This first book is currently on sale for $1.99. The 11th book in the series comes out in August. Below is my review from 2013, very lightly edited.
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Summary: Fun mystery set in the early 1930s with a down on her luck 34th from the throne Royal.

I have to admit, that being a new parent and trying to keep up with work and enjoying my new daughter and trying to get enough sleep, I have just not been interested in reading anything heavy.  I have already finished more than my goal of books for the year (which is a new record number of books), so I don’t feel pressed to read to review.

Consequently I have been reading fun books.  And this is a great example of a fun book.  Georgie is the younger sister of a Duke.  She is 34th in line for the throne in 1932.  But that does not mean things are going well for her.  She is 21, her brother has stopped giving her a living allowance.  Her father has died after losing all of the family money in American investments, her mother left her father when she was a young child and has been sleeping her way through all of the rich and famous of Europe since then.

Georgie has had enough of her current life stuck in a cold drafty castle in Scotland with her very sweet, but fairly hapless brother and her distant and condescending sister in law.  So she heads to London to make her way on her own.  But things are not that easy.  She does not really have any job skills.  And she can’t take just any job, because there is society to think of and her cousin (the Queen) will find out.  If she doesn’t figure out a way to take care of herself, she is going to be sent off to the country to be a lady in waiting for a great aunt (the last remaining daughter of Queen Victoria).  She will never find a husband (or have any fun) out there.

Things are really not going all that well when she comes home to find a dead body in her bathtub.  I assume this is homage to Dorothy Sayers’s first Lord Peter Wimsey book Whose Body? which also has a body in a bathtub as the center of the mystery.

This is a modern book, where Dorothy Sayer was writing as a contemporary of the 1930s, Rhys Rowen is writing of the same time 85 years later.  But there are some good parallels.  Both are mysteries with real humor.  And both have brilliant, but somewhat scattered main characters.

Obviously there is the difference in the gender of the characters in a time when gender mattered significantly.  But also because the portrayed eras feel different.  Wimsey for all of his lightness suffers from PTSD after fighting in WWI.  Georgie is young, naive and stumbled into a lot of answers.  Wimsey acts like a fool but is not at all the fool.

There is also the light feminist angle.  Georgie is still a part of her class and station. But she is reaching out and willing to push boundaries in ways that is clearly different than Wimsey because Wimsey is both male and still rich.

All in all, this was a fun series, and I will read more of it.

Update: I have since read the whole series and very much enjoyed it as a light cozy mystery series. (Although there were a couple that were definitely not up to the rest of the series.) See reviews of the rest of the books below. The next book in the series, On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service comes out Aug 1)

Her Royal Spyness Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: